The Play Project in correlation with Civitas

The Play Project Mahavidya - Therapy Center, Children with Special Needs, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy, Aqua Therapy, Physiotherapy, Psychologists Play Project in correlation with Civitas (Persatuan komuniti Bersatu Teguh)

In 2014 Shri Param Eswaran and his Dutch wife Edith Kasander established a therapy centre called The Play Project, an initiative under Mahavidya Inner Health and “Persatuan Komuniti Bersatu Teguh” or “Civitas” was registered on October 2nd, 2017 as an NGO

Edith, who goes by Devi nowadays, has always gravitated towards children. She is a certified Intensive Care Nurse and after her basic training, she worked in the children’s intensive care unit at a university hospital in Holland. After leaving for Tamil Nadu, India, she educated children in rural villages about hygiene, taught them English and motivated them to pursue higher studies.
Together with her husband, they created a centre in rural India with Mahavidya temple and various facilities for different spiritual activities, including a large kitchen, boarding rooms, classrooms and a playground for about 25 village children.
Upon arriving to Malaysia, she signed up as a volunteer at a centre for special needs children in Seremban. While working with differently abled children, she was made privy to their exceptional needs, and saw that what was available here at the time fell short of fulfilling their unique requirements.
Feeling that the kids deserve a better approach to help them blossom, she felt compelled to start a centre of her own, one in which she would be able to create her vision of care and therapy for the kids that is akin to what is available in the West.
Always supported in various ways by her husband, Devi underwent hands-on training for two years at Amirs Gym, a kids’ therapy centre in KL, and was certified in various aquatic modalities before establishing The Play Project. To extend the services of The Play Project, a graduate certified occupational therapist, a physiotherapist and a speech therapist joined the centre over the years to create a holistic therapy programme.
Therapy is costly and time-consuming, and needs to be supported and understood by the parents for the children to progress. In several cases, Devi noticed that the parents were not aware of the importance of therapy for children and that the kids missed out on valuable therapy hours due to financial restrain. Devi’s passion for the young ones, combined with her drive to do better for them and to make their futures brighter, made her step out of her comfort zone and go a couple of steps beyond just running a therapy centre.
In June 2017, she called in the help of Melaka-based Dr. Yee Kok Wah (who has a fellowship in Pediatric Special Needs at the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs in California) to come up with a way to raise awareness about special needs therapy for children. Many parents from The Play Project were on board as well, and with advice and motivation from Dr. Yee and Devi, nine people came forward to form an ad hoc committee. This ad hoc committee organised a successful drum circle awareness event in S2 City Park in August 2017.
The committee subsequently evolved into “Persatuan Komuniti Bersatu Teguh” or “Civitas” as it was registered on October 2nd, 2017. This group of dedicated, passionate parents, therapists and people who want to give back to society took it upon themselves to foster awareness, acceptance and inclusiveness for children and adults with special needs in Negeri Sembilan.
In the months after the drum circle gathering, Civitas organized two Playhouse Cafe events, which saw the special children running the cafe under the guidance of parents and volunteers. Both instances of this novel enterprise proved to be popular, with kids and adults alike enjoying the experience.
Later on, Devi had the opportunity to shift The Play Project to bigger premises, and she quickly realized that the new location would be the ideal home for the vocational centre that Civitas is in the process of establishing. The Play Project‘s sprawling garden, kitchen and accommodating space make for the perfect basis for the vocational centre’s envisioned organic garden and cafe.
Civitas is mainly run by parents with children who have special needs. These parents’ biggest concerns and fears are: Who is going to take care of my child when I am no longer around? Is it fair to put the responsibility of care on their siblings? Is there a place where my child will be safe, happy, respected and loved?
The Civitas long-term vision was conceptualised to address these worries. The aim is to create a place for young adults with additional needs, where they will be safe and continually guided so that they can live fulfilling lives, and can be as independent as their abilities allow when their parents are no longer able to take care of them.
As far as we are aware, there is no such place in Negeri Sembilan to date. Civitas’ long-term goal is to eventually secure a piece of land upon which to build this community of care and self-sustainment, where neurodiversity is embraced and respected, and where kids and young adults with additional needs receive the best care and guidance that they deserve.
Civitas FB page
The Play Project FB page
Early Intervention Program (EIP)